Schoenberg - Peripetie from Five Orchestral Pieces

Expressionism and Peripetie 

  • Created by: Angharad
  • Created on: 20-04-11 12:59

Expressionism and Schoenberg

Expressionism was an early 20th century movement in the arts - the aim was to express feelings as intensely as possible.

Schoenberg was an important figure in the expressionist movement. Schoenberg was Austrian and was a pioneer of atonal music (music with no set key)

The five orchestral pieces were composed in 1909. It was very difficult from Schoneberg to find anyone to perform them due to their experimental nature and the fact that they were written for a large orchestra. Consequently, the first performance wasn't given until 1912 during the Proms in London. Peripetie means 'A sudden reversal'

1 of 8


  • To play this piece, you'll need a large orchestra of at least 90 players (made up of strings, woodwind and a large percussion and brass section)
  • Instrumentation changes rapidly throughout, containing many contrasts in timbre
  • Performers are required to play extremes of their range - very high or very low notes
  • Unusual effects are used. Schoenberg asked the cymbal players to play the cymbals with both a mallet and cello bow!!!!!!!
2 of 8

Unusual Instruments Used...

  • Piccolo: a small flute played an octave higher than written on score
  • Cor anglais: lower version of the oboe
  • Bass clarinet: a large clarinet that sounds an octave lower 
  • Contrabassoon: large bassoon that sounds an octave lower
  • Tam-tam: large gong
3 of 8


Melody is Angular

  • Peripetie is made up of short, fragmented motifs. 
  • Schoenberg uses octave displacement - unexpectedly moving notes to another octave.
  • Inversion is used - when the melody is turned upside-down
  • Rhythmic augmentation is used - when the notes become twice as long

4 of 8

Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

The metre changes between 3/4 2/4 and 4/4

"Sehr Rasch" - very quick

Rhythms are complex and varied and change quickly. Schoenberg layers a number of different rhythmic patterns on top of each other to create a complex, contrapuntal texture.

5 of 8

Tonailty and Harmony

This piece is atonal - it uses a lot of dissonant harmony

Chords and melodies are often built to form hexachords (groups of six notes)

6 of 8

Texture and Dynamics

The texture is largely contrapuntal, with occasional monophonic and homophonic moments

Complex textures are built up through the use of imitation and inversion.

Frequent sudden changes of dynamics leading to extreme contrasts between pppp and ffff

7 of 8


This piece is in free rondo form and is structured like this: ABA'CA''

A' and A'' are derivations of A

It is called "free" rondo because it is very different to the traditional type of rondo heard in the Classical period, when the different sections were clearly contrasted

8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar Music resources:

See all Music resources »See all Schoenberg resources »